ONE-TO-ONE OR SLIM TO NONE: NEW JERSEY'S CHANCES OF AFFORDING A ONE-TO-ONE EDUCATIONAL INITIATIVE.

Author:Chernoff, Melanie A.
 
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  1. Introduction 126 II. Right to an Education 127 III. Technology in Education 129 A. Standards and Testing 130 B. Initiatives 132 i. Bring Your Own Device 132 ii. One-to-One 134 iii. Financial Considerations 135 IV. Legislation for Funding 139 A. Maryland 139 B. New Jersey 140 V. Example of a Successful Implementation 142 VI. Financing the Initiative 144 A. Existing New Jersey Legislation 146 B. Costs Associated with the Initiative 149 i. Network 150 ii. Device 154 iii. Training 155 iv. Administration 156 v. Preliminary Total 156 vi. Continued Costs 157 VII. Failed Implementation 158 VIII. Final Question 159 I. INTRODUCTION

    Public education is a topic that most people think they know about because they have been through it. There are very few people that understand the constitutional right to an education and the funding formula that goes along with providing what is legally required. A right to a thorough and efficient education is something that cannot be taken away; however, the content and definition of a "thorough and efficient education" is still up for debate.

    With the move to the common core as the nation's educational standards, included in that right to a thorough and efficient education is anything that is required to fulfill the standards imposed on students in public schools. Part of the common core is the requirement to be career ready and technologically savvy. While "career ready" and "technology savvy" are not the wordings used defining standards, they are the de-facto goal and effect.

    Many schools are meeting these technology requirements by implementing a bring your own device initiative in which students bring their own internet capable device into school to be used in the classroom. The alternative to the bring you own device initiative is a one-to-one initiative in which the school provides each student with an internet capable device to be used for school purposes. There are pros and cons to each initiative, but there is plenty of data showing that has shown that it helps student progress.

    The benefits of the initiative for student learning is not the issue when it comes to implementing one of these initiatives. A one-to-one initiative is the best option for schools, as it puts all students on an equal playing field. That same one-to-one initiative is also the most expensive, making it difficult for schools to implement it successfully.

    This note will discuss the differences between a bring your own device initiative and a one-to-one initiative to show why New Jersey, as a whole, should implement a one-to-one initiative. After discussing the differences between the two initiatives, this note will outline the various costs that go along with the implementation process. Finally, this note will conclude with why New Jersey should implement the initiative but simply cannot.

  2. RIGHT TO AN EDUCATION

    The Constitution of the United States makes each state responsible for providing public education for children in grades kindergarten through twelfth. (1) Education within each state has and will continue to evolve. Beginning in 1828, stemming from a study conducted by the state of New Jersey, education began to drastically change. (2) The study showed that "[m]any children were... unable to attend school; [o]ne in every five voters was unable to read or write; and [s]tate residents wanted a free public school system." (3) Over the course of the next fifty years, through legislative measures, education began to change. It began with laws that established much of the public education system that is known today. The laws provide for "state and local funds for the operation of schools," the appointment of superintendents for schools, establishing "a state board of education and a state superintendent of public instruction," and requiring "schools to be free to all children aged 5 to 18." (5) Fast forward to the twentieth century where education in New Jersey, and in all states, continued to expand and progress. "Public school became free for everyone between ages 5 and 20, and education was made compulsory for all students between the ages of 6 and 16." (6)

    The definition of "a thorough and efficient education" was established during the 1990s at the same time the Core Curriculum Content Standards were adopted and the Comprehensive Education Improvement and Financing Act was passed "by the Legislature [as] a new school funding law." Specifically in New Jersey, Abbot v. Burke (8) was litigated to challenge the funding formula. "The court declared the funding formula unconstitutional and identified the school districts represented in the suit as having special needs for school programs and school facilities." (9) The result was "a new funding formula... that ensures that the most disadvantaged district in the state can spend at the same rate as the most affluent districts." (10) Looking at education in New Jersey today, education continues to be "governed by the Legislature, the New Jersey State Board of Education and the Commissioner of Education." (11) There are many requirements for schools, (12) the eligibility of students, (13) and testing requirements to ensure student progress. (14) However, the most important part of New Jersey's constitution is that "[s]tudents are entitled to a free public education in the communities in which they live." (15) Specifically, the New Jersey Constitution states "[t]he Legislature shall provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of free public schools for the instruction of all the children in the State between the ages of five and eighteen years." (16)

    Education in public schools is based upon the curriculum that is required by the Federal Government and then each individual state's Department of Education. Currently, New Jersey is implementing the Core Curriculum Content Standards to establish what students in the state are expected to know upon finishing each grade level and then eventually upon high school graduation. (18) Within those standards is the requirement to create career ready learners in the twenty-first century (19) as well as specific technology standards. (20) These standards establish the right of students to have the technology necessary to meet these standards as they are part of their right to an education. (21)

  3. TECHNOLOGY IN EDUCATION

    The world is ever evolving, with new ideas and technology being presented each and every day. As this new technology becomes more and more prevalent in the world, the way students are taught in schools is also changing. No longer is it a one room school house with children of all ages grouped together expected to learn. Schools are now teaching foreign languages starting in kindergarten; students can work computers and cell phones better than the teachers; the "common core" (22) is being used to make America's students great again in comparison to those around the world. With these changes comes the needs for school districts and even state Department of Educations to decide on how to implement the technological advancements and standards. With advancements in schools means the need to spend money, which means increasing the school budget, which in turn means increasing taxes. All these have limits, so it is about deciding what is best for the district, or even the state.

    1. Standards and Testing

    The current trend in education is to have students use internet capable devices in the classroom to enhance education and prepare them for the future. New Jersey is one of the forty-two states that have adopted the Core Curriculum Content Standards. (23) The New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards have a specific content area for technology. Standard 8.1, Educational Technology, states that "[a]Il students will use digital tools to access, manage, evaluate, and synthesize information in order to solve problems individually and collaborate and to create and communicate knowledge." Standard 8.2, Technology Education, Engineering, Design, and Computational Thinking--Programming, states that "[a]ll students will develop an understanding of the nature and impact of technology, engineering, technological design, computational thinking and the designed world as they relate to the individual, global society, and the environment." (25) What the Core Curriculum Content Standards do not address is how to integrate the technology in the schools to meet these standards. More so, the Core Curriculum Content Standards do not tell the schools what type of technology should be purchased nor do they provide suggestions on how to afford said technology. However, since the Core Curriculum Content Standards are mandated for use in New Jersey, it becomes a right of the student to have access to the tools required to reach such standards.

    The other push for having a school fitted with technological devices for a student to use on a daily basis is the implementation of Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers ("PARCC") testing. There are nine states that participate in administering the PARCC assessment: Colorado, District of Columbia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Louisiana, and Rhode Island. (26) PARCC assessments are administered online yearly beginning in third (3rd) grade through high school. To prepare for these online assessments, the New Jersey Department of Education ("NJDOE") has created NJTRAx as a tool for districts to test their technology readiness. (28) NJTRAx was formed "to gauge the technology readiness of New Jersey schools and districts for online testing as well as provide a digital learning tool. The NJTRAx interactive database is designed to collect and store the datasets that inform readiness ratings." (29) Again, like the Core Curriculum Content Standards, NJTRAx does not address how to pay for the costs associated with the infrastructure upgrade that is necessary for the PARCC testing. There is also no outline...

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